First of all, I want to stress that this comic is not for everyone. It’s extremely coarse and almost cartoonishly vulgar right from the beginning, which I suspect is the point. Joe Hill has written a story in the vein of classic horror comics, or perhaps even B-movie horror, wherein a clearly villainous criminal trio seek to hide out in the old secluded mansion by the sea while they wait for their get-away boat to arrive. Taking hostage the strangely calm family who reside within, it isn’t long before some good, old-fashioned poetic justice is visited upon the deserving bad guys. The story is dark and twisted, but in all the right ways, and it makes for a fun, little horror tale. Gabriel Rodriguez’s art further cements the vintage tone of the story, with panels that evoke the feel of comics with grimy, yellowed pages---you can almost smell the stale cigarette smoke as you read. Once the setting changes to Keyhouse, however, the art keeps pace, draping everything in shadow and heightening the menace and mystery to which the crooks are fatally oblivious. All in all, Grindhouse is a book that lives up to its title in more ways than one.
Though it may not be an earth-shakingly original plot (which, again, I believe was purposefully done to keep it in the realm of pulp fiction), this book has most definitely whetted my appetite for more stories from the mysterious recesses of Keyhouse. If you have been wanting to read Locke & Key but weren’t sure if it was for you or not, pick up a copy of Grindhouse; I doubt you’ll be disappointed.